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Q (original 1999; edition 2005)
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0156031965, Paperback)The story of Q begins with the mystery surrounding the author(s). Luther Blissett, the "author" of Q is the name of a Jamaican soccer player who played for AC Milan in the early l980s. He was victimized by Italian fans, whose racist and nasty comments caused his career to take a dive. This hapless fellow inspired a group of Italian artists to appropriate his name and attach it to all manner of projects. There are Luther Blissetts writing, drawing, and carrying out elaborate hoaxes all over the world. Four young Italians in Bologna wrote Q in the mid 1990s. It remains a bestseller in Italy and has become a cult hit throughout Europe.
Q is set at the time of the Reformation. After Luther hangs his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church, nothing is ever the same in the hallowed halls of Christianity. One of the sects which sprang up during the Reformation was the Anabaptists, Christians who discredited infant baptism and believed that the Bible was the only rule for faith and life. Q follows the adventures of a student of Thomas Munzer, Anabaptist and leader of the abortive Peasants' Revolt of 1524-25, who goes under many names, the first of which is Gustav Metzger, and Q, a papal informer. These two travel throughout Europe, trying to suss out each other's identity, sending letters to Munzer and to the Pope, making friends and enemies, hating each other's deeply felt convictions. Metzger is staying one step ahead of the heretic hunters, bent on destroying all supporters of Luther.
The translation is rickety, at best. There are long, sonorous passages filled with the formal language of the times, and then a jarring change to modern slang. "On the point of death they all denied everything that had been extorted from them with torture: small consolation, and I don't know how many were able to die in peace because of it... It was November or December 1531, around the time Lienhard Jost kicked the bucket." There is a tremendous amount of scholarship contained in the novel and the blend of fact and fiction allows room for intrigue, politics, betrayal, and that ever-familiar conundrum of terror in the name of religion. At over 750 pages, it requires a great deal of patience and attention on the part of the reader, not all of which is richly rewarded. A final cavil: Wittenberg is misspelled in the jacket copy. --Valerie Ryan
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 07 Jan 2013 13:35:33 -0500)
Resting fitfully on the night train to Vienna, Helen Martin discovers that she is, quite literally, losing her senses. Sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste -- all are disappearing, and her own body parts are taking on unfamiliar characteristics. With The Sensualist, the author of The Tattooed Map has created a that weaves together the unseemly history of anatomical art with a gruesome modern-day murder. An illustrated literary sortie into the realm of the body, The Sensualist is a potent exploration of the limitations of looking and the boundless power of seeing. Helen's search for answers, for clues, and for her wayward husband takes her through the capitals of Europe and from the 16th century to World War II to last winter. But her real journey lies within, as each of her five senses comes alive with catastrophic acuity. A deftly woven conundrum of art forgery, revenge, and connoisseurship, The Sensualist is also the chronicle of a ruinous love affair and the history of a lost body.
(summary from another edition)
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